2013 will see PSN story move beyond cost reduction theme
PSNGB paper discusses PSN's transformational promise and reinforces common processes driver for shared services
2013 is likely to see the public service network (PSN) story move beyond cost reduction towards its value in delivering transformational frontline services.
According to a paper from PSNGB, the trade association for organisations providing PSN services to the public sector, ICT cost reduction is just the tip of the iceberg. A common network and shared services - with the appropriate security levels - could allow local authorities, government departments, police and voluntary services to work more collaboratively.
The paper, which summarises delegate responses from an earlier shared services workshop, argues that PSN's ability to link organisations and services breaks down the barriers to sharing data between services, enabling greater collaboration through the simple and secure exchange of information.
It reinforces the conclusions of a recent Kable white paper which found that common processes are more important than geographic factors in the success of shared services, and that it is possible to run successful services that are shared across the country.
The paper points out that the effect of today's inability to share data between professionals is particularly troublesome in the health and social services arena. As NHS reforms transfer an increasing number of responsibilities into local authorities, the need to work effectively across boundaries - to maintain service levels - is paramount. Similarly enthusiasm to deliver compelling online self-service facilities is eclipsed only by the complexity of actually doing it.
"The PSN plays a role here - in delivering the network as well as offering an opportunity to develop truly innovative and user friendly web-based interfaces."
PSNGB's paper also argues that PSN helps enable workforces to become more mobile by providing a platform to deliver secure, on-demand cloud services to remote workers.
In terms of barriers to PSN, one of the most frequently quoted challenges to achieving effective shared services is organisational politics; gaining trust between organisations in agreeing to share their services and the historic lack of collaboration between them.
"Creating a 'without walls' ethos is no easy task in organisations more used to siloed working. Local politics and the 'not invented here' syndrome need to be overcome. Chances are, they will be. The imperative to save money, combined with a greater understanding of the value of shared services, should ultimately drive more co-operation within the governance arena."